I'm from Missouri

This site is named for the famous statement of US Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver from Missouri : "I`m from Missouri -- you'll have to show me." This site is dedicated to skepticism of official dogma in all subjects. Just-so stories are not accepted here. This is a site where controversial subjects such as evolution theory and the Holocaust may be freely debated.

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

My biggest motivation for creating my own blogs was to avoid the arbitrary censorship practiced by other blogs and various other Internet forums. Censorship will be avoided in my blogs -- there will be no deletion of comments, no closing of comment threads, no holding up of comments for moderation, and no commenter registration hassles. Comments containing nothing but insults and/or ad hominem attacks are discouraged. My non-response to a particular comment should not be interpreted as agreement, approval, or inability to answer.

Friday, June 29, 2007

"Blogswarm" topic: Is the separation of church and state patriotic?


An article on a blog named "Blog Against Theocracy" says,

We're going to be holding another blogswarm during the Fourth of July week, July 1-4.

A blogswarm is where a group of bloggers from all venues agree to post on the same topic. Our loosely framed topic for this swarm is "the separation of Church and State is patriotic." But this is about blogging, and we're not trying to herd anyone. Post on church/state separation, against theocracy, and you're participating.

I don't see the advantage of having a lot of blogs post on the same topic at the same time, but I nonetheless intend to participate. Instructions telling bloggers how to participate in the blogswarm are here.

"Blue Gal" emphatically claims that First Freedom First is not a sponsor of the blogswarm, but the sidebar of the FFF website includes the blogswarm's logo shown above. FFF includes many prominent organizations -- it is a partnership of Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the Interfaith Alliance Foundation, and the list of supporters includes the American Jewish Committee and the American Humanist Association. The list of supporters also includes the infamous National Center for Science Education and the presumptuously named Scientists and Engineers for America, and unfortunately their support for FFF reflects their efforts to misuse the establishment clause to suppress criticism of Darwinism in the public schools. The name "First Freedom First" may be catchy but IMO it wrongly implies that the establishment clause and the free exercise clause are more equal than other Bill of Rights' protections just because these clauses appear first. In fact, IMO the establishment clause is one of the least important of the Bill of Rights' protections because it often just involves a "right" to not be offended, a right which is not even in the Constitution.

Anyway, I am going to jump the gun on the blogswarm by discussing the blogswarm topic right now. To address the question, "Is the separation of Church and State patriotic?", it is necessary to first answer the questions "What does the term 'separation of church and state' mean?" and what does "patriotic" mean? To some people, "separation of church and state" means an impenetrable "wall" of separation and to some other people the concept does not even exist in the Constitution. To me, the term has just been a catch-all term covering the establishment clause and the free exercise clause. In Lynch v. Donnelly (465 U.S. 668, 673), the Supreme Court said that the term is just a "metaphor" and that it has "'never been thought either possible or desirable to enforce a regime of total separation.' Committee for Public Education & Religious Liberty v. Nyquist, 413 U.S. 756, 760 (1973)". Also, Justice O'Connor's concurring opinion in Lynch, which established the endorsement test, said that the government can run afoul of the establishment clause by showing disapproval of religion as well as by endorsing religion. I think that I will use the term "separation of church and state" less in the future because it has become vague in meaning and is being misused.

People on both sides of the church-state separation issue are trying to make themselves appear to be more patriotic than others by trying to identify their own religious views with those of the founding fathers. As a result, the founding fathers have been portrayed as virtually everything from a bunch of bible pounding, holy rolling fundies to a bunch of godless blasphemous atheists.

And what does "patriotic" mean? Does it mean supporting the nation or supporting the American ideals of freedom and democracy? In foreign countries, there is no correlation whatsoever between the degree of "separation of church and state" and the existence of freedom, democracy, tyranny, etc.. For example, countries or regimes with no "separation of church and state" range from the UK, which has a lot of freedom and democracy, down to the tyrannical Taliban.

I long thought the concept of "separation of church and state" to be innocuous at worst but I now see it as an instrument of tyranny that is being misused to attack scientific (or pseudoscientific) criticisms of Darwinism in the public schools. There is no constitutional separation of bad science and state, so Darwinists are attacking criticisms of Darwinism by exploiting the fortuitous historical fact that many of the criticisms of Darwinism have been religious in nature. The Darwinists ignore the fact that a lot of criticisms of Darwinism are not religious at all -- e.g., criticisms concerning co-evolution and the propagation of beneficial mutations in sexual reproduction. The Darwinists argue that intelligent design is religious because it implies the existence of a supernatural designer. However, with non-ID criticisms of evolution, there is no supernatural designer. With no supernatural designer, there is no god. With no god, there is no religion. With no religion, there can be no real violation of the establishment clause.

Also, I am annoyed by what I consider to be some other recent misuses of the establishment clause -- e.g., the ACLU of Southern California's threat to sue Los Angeles County over a tiny cross in the county seal. That's really nitpicking.

Do I think that we would be better off without the establishment clause? No. But I think that we need to be more sensible in how we apply it.
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6 Comments:

Anonymous Darwin B. Leaver said...

I simply cannot endure
All those who hold not to pure
Appearance of life
By mere blunder and strife:
They're theocrats! Surely that's sure!

Friday, June 29, 2007 5:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Darwin B. Leaver said...

My brain is so crazy with fear
That I think that theocracy's near:
A dictator's coming
With bugles and drumming;
His name? It's Behe! He's here!

Saturday, June 30, 2007 2:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You make a valid point that attempts to extinguish all appearances of religion may go too far. But your arguments on Darwin ignore the fact that the "criticisms" of evolution that proponents of church/state evolution seek to keep out of schools are almost entirely religious in nature. No one is saying that gaps in the fossil record or genetic mechanisms that are not easily explained by Darwin should not be discussed. What they (and I include myself) object to are "resolutions" of these questions that rely on supernatural explanations. You're knocking down a straw man here.

Sunday, July 01, 2007 8:23:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

>>>>> You make a valid point that attempts to extinguish all appearances of religion may go too far. <<<<<

Thank you.

>>>>>> But your arguments on Darwin ignore the fact that the "criticisms" of evolution that proponents of church/state evolution seek to keep out of schools are almost entirely religious in nature. <<<<<<

But the idea of intelligent design is to present criticisms of evolution in scientific terms and get away from religion. For example, there is nothing in the bible about irreducible complexity, bacterial flagella, blood-clotting cascades, etc.. And I prefer to focus on non-ID criticisms of religion, e.g., criticisms concerning co-evolution and the propagation of beneficial mutations in sexual reproduction. With no design, there is no supernatural designer. With no supernatural designer, there is no god. With no god, there is no religion. With no religion, there is no establishment clause violation.

>>>>>> No one is saying that gaps in the fossil record or genetic mechanisms that are not easily explained by Darwin should not be discussed. <<<<<

A lot of people are trying to suppress all criticisms of Darwinism.

>>>>>> What they (and I include myself) object to are "resolutions" of these questions that rely on supernatural explanations. <<<<<<<

Many ID proponents try to avoid the supernatural by not suggesting who the intelligent designer is. I think that the name "intelligent design" is unfortunate because it implies the existence of a supernatural designer.

Sunday, July 01, 2007 10:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Voice in the Wilderness said...

> But the idea of intelligent design is to present criticisms of evolution in scientific terms and get away from religion. <

But intelligent design is not scientific.

With intelligent design, there is a designer. With a supernatural designer, there is ao god. With a god, there is religion. With religion, there is a establishment clause violation.

Monday, July 02, 2007 10:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Voice in the Wilderness said...

> I can "gossip" about me here, but you can't. Those are the rules. <

So much for your braying about the "fairness doctrine".

> However, I generally try to avoid gossiping about myself here. <

Much of your description of yourself is untrue. You claim not to censor and you even claim not to have deleted posts when you have done so.

> I was forced to gossip about myself when Fake Dave misrepresented himself as my brother in comments on Fatheaded Ed's blog. <

Fake Dave did not misrepresent himself. The only one posting as Dave Fafarman on Ed's blog was your brother, real Dave.

If you don't believe that it was your real brother, why did you pressure your mother to call him and ask him to stop posting?

Tuesday, July 03, 2007 9:37:00 AM  

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